- Rare 1881 Ticket of Leave donated to Fremantle Prison
- Document to be part of 150th commemorations of the last convict ship to Australia
- Convict history part of WA's rich heritage
A chance find has resulted in a rare 1881 convict Ticket of Leave being donated to Fremantle Prison after it was found tucked inside an old magazine.
The Ticket of Leave belonged to William Bartlett, who was transported to Fremantle on the Hougoumont in 1868, the last convict ship to arrive in Australia.
A Ticket of Leave allowed convicts to work for themselves and live in a given district of the colony before their sentence expired or they were pardoned.
The Buckinghamshire horse dealer had been convicted of rape and sentenced to 15 years' transportation. Bartlett was forced to leave his wife and daughter behind in England.
Bartlett worked in the Geraldton-Greenough area, and is believed to have given his Ticket of Leave to a priest in Geraldton for safekeeping. The document was passed down through the priest's family and was later found tucked inside a magazine by Julie Bateman from Murdoch, who had been clearing out her deceased aunt's house.
WA police records show Bartlett was caught stealing a pig and was later charged with vagrancy after receiving his Ticket of Leave. He was remanded in the Mt Eliza Poor House before being sent to the Colonial Hospital where he died of a brain embolism in 1894. Bartlett's daughter died in England at the age of 14 and he left no other dependents.
Comments attributed to Heritage Minister David Templeman:
"It is not often that a significant historical document is found in Western Australia in such good condition, particularly one relating to the World Heritage-listed Fremantle Prison and the convict system.
"The Ticket of Leave will form part of a new exhibition at Fremantle Prison about the history of convict transportation to Australia. The exhibition, called Transportation, will open on January 9, 2018 to mark the anniversary of the last convict ship to Australia.
"Bartlett's story reminds us that, while many convicts did go on to redeem themselves and prosper, the convict system was a harsh and brutal regime that some did not survive."
Minister's office - 6552 5400